World League 2005 News
Fresh start for France and Italy

Ragusa, Italy, May 26, 2005 – In what is expected to be one of the most riveting contests during the opening round of the 2005 World League this weekend, world number six France arrived in Ragusa on Wednesday in preparation for two away matches against last year’s silver medallists and world number two Italy starting on Friday at 20:30 (local time).

With both sides grouped in arguably the toughest of the three pools - Pool B - this weekend’s fixtures will be crucial in gaining the early ascendancy, especially when one considers Bulgaria and Cuba complete the group.
Pic: Pierre Pujol sets for Vincent Montmeat during the 2004 World League where France finished fifth
French coach Philippe Blain has brought with him a young squad with a sprinkle of experience, namely new captain Stephane Antiga, Philippe Barca-Cysique, Vincent Montmeat and Jean Charles Monneraye. While regular skipper Dominique Daquin is off the international scene for the year, the likes of star libero Hubert Henno, Frantz Granvorka, Mathias Patin, Oliver Kieffer and Sebastien Frangolacci have been left at home.

“The World League this year is an important competition for us,” Blain said. “It is not a question of changing the team for the sake of it like last year but actually working with a stable group.

"The World League is the best chance for the younger players to gain valuable experience and it will also give us an ideal preparation opportunity ahead of the third round of the World Championship, which we have a few weeks later. Our pool in the World League is very difficult even if, like the Blues, the other teams participating have been forced to make changes and modify their squads."

Meanwhile, Italy, who are due to arrive in Ragusa at 13:00 on Thursday, are also missing some big names from their 2005 World League squad with Andrea Giani, Samuele Papi, who is on a year’s sabbatical, Andrea Sartoretti and Damiano Pippi all absent.

However, coach Gianpaolo Montali has still named his strongest 12-strong line up despite Marco Meoni still being under an injury cloud, with Olympic heroes Matej Cernic, Paolo Cozzi, Alessandro Fei, Luigi Mastrangelo and Valerio Vermiglio all still in the fray.

France: Loic Geiler, Jean Francois Exiga, Gerald Hardy Dessources, Junot Mistoco, Jean Charles Monneraye,
Stephane Antiga, Ludovic Castard, Vincent Montmeat, Loic Lemarrec, Pierre Pujol, Gabriel Zobo Lebay, Philippe Barca-Cysique.

Italy: Matej Cernic, Alberto Cisolla, Mirko Corsano, Paolo Cozzi, Alessandro Farina, Alessandro Fei, Luigi Mastrangelo, Leonardo Morsut, Andrea Semenzato, Ventzislav Simeonov, Giacomo Sintini, Valerio Vermiglio

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